At The Statehouse: Senate May Vote TOMORROW On Harmful Elections Bill
After a quiet month of summer break, the Ohio Senate returns for a day of committee hearings and floor votes tomorrow, and, at the top of their agenda, is HB 680, an election bill that makes it harder to vote early, in-person, and by mail, and does nothing to improve the safety or accessibility of voting in November. The bill was passed by the Ohio House last month on a party-line vote. Tomorrow the Senate will get its turn.
House Bill 680, as passed by the House, would:
- Require Ohioans to pay for postage on absentee ballot applications and on any absentee ballots themselves
- Limit each County to only one Early Vote and secure ballot drop box location no matter its size or population.
- Force Ohioans to request absentee ballots by mail instead of online.
- Prohibit the Governor and Ohio Department of Health Director from “causing an election to be conducted other than the time, place, and manner prescribed by the Revised Code,” effectively tying official’s hands to change aspects of the election even if the pandemic continues to worsen.
- Shorten the time to request a vote-by-mail ballot
Despite repeatedly saying he wants to allow Ohioans to request an absentee ballot online and that forcing voters to pay for return postage is likely “unconstitutional,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is inexplicably supporting the passage of HB 680.
Reports suggest the Secretary of State and local election officials are primarily interested in moving up the deadline to request an absentee ballot, but if that’s the case, they should condition their endorsement on improvements to the bill that make it easier — not harder — for Ohioans to exercise alternatives to voting in person on election day.
The bill is up for its first and last Senate hearing tomorrow, setting it up for a likely floor vote at tomorrow’s 1:30 pm session. See “Statehouse Meetings and Events” below for details on watching or testifying at tomorrow’s hearing.
Here is a tool you can use to send a note to your State Senator to ask them to fix HB 680.
Take Action on HB 680
House Bill 680 — up for a vote in the Ohio Senate as early as tomorrow, July 21 — does nothing to make our elections safer or more accessible in November.
Contact your state Senator and ask them to amend HB 680 with the following voting improvements:
- Prepaid postage on absentee applications and ballots,
- Online absentee ballot requests, and
- Multiple, secure and convenient drop boxes to return absentee ballots
New Legislation This Week
Below are some of the new bills introduced in the last several weeks since we last sent an update. You can also view the complete list of bills we’re tracking.
- House Bill 706 (Crawley, West) – Police Training – to require peace officers to complete training on de-escalation techniques, implicit bias, procedural justice, and mental health issues, to require information regarding mental health resources and available support be provided to peace officers annually, and to make an appropriation.
- House Bill 707 (Miranda, Boggs) – Tear Gas – to prohibit the use of tear gas by peace officers.
- House Bill 709 (Denson, Upchurch) – Use of Force – to establish a database of records of use of force by law enforcement officers
- House Bill 710 (Upchurch, Denson) – Police Practices – to prohibit police officers from engaging in biased policing and other status-based profiling and to require the attorney general’s office to establish rules regarding such police practices.
- House Bill 712 (Sheehy, Hicks-Hudson) – Law Enforcement Database – to require the Attorney General to create a database of information regarding law enforcement officers who have been terminated or resigned under certain circumstances and to require law enforcement agencies to access the database to determine employment eligibility of those officers.
- House Bill 713 (West, Leland) – Law Enforcement Quotas – to prohibit law enforcement agencies from using quotas for arrests and citations.
- House BIll 721 (Weinstein, Crawley) – Military Surplus – to prohibit a political subdivision from receiving certain property from a military equipment surplus program operated by the federal government and to limit the use of federal funds to purchase equipment.
- House Bill 729 (Galonski) – Pride Month – to designate the month of June as “Pride Month.”
- Senate Bill 334 (Craig, Brenner) – Juneteenth Holiday – to establish the nineteenth of June as Juneteenth, a legal holiday for which government employees receive paid leave.
- Senate Joint Resolution 5 (Thomas) – Slavery Amendment – proposing to amend Section 6 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to prohibit slavery or involuntary servitude in Ohio for the punishment of crime.